The Joy of Cycling in Northern Door County

Straightaway under trees

Straightaway under trees

On a Tuesday evening in mid-May, I met a group of friends and strangers in the parking lot of the original Door County Brewing Company. I strapped on my helmet and evaluated my layers before climbing onto a borrowed road bike. The group clicked in and some veteran riders led us off, turning left out of the parking lot and coasting toward Highway 57. There we turned left, following 57 north until we reached county road Q, where we turned right. Heading out of Baileys Harbor we paired off, each cyclist latching on to the “pull” of the bike in front of him or her and pedaling in sync with a partner. I talked with one of my colleagues, loving being outside on a weeknight. The pace was fast, though, and I wasn’t a regular cyclist, so before long my quads were screaming. It seemed I wasn’t the only one to feel this way early in the cycling season. Soon a group of us dropped back from the pack and set our own, slightly slower pace. We cycled north along Moonlight and North Bays. The cool evening air kept us working hard at our pedals. The early spring date assured that we had no bugs flying in our eyes. We finally paused for water north of Sister Bay, where Old Stage Road meets Highway 42. There we turned back and followed a new route to Bailey’s Harbor, completing a ride of more than 25 miles. In my first ride of the season, I had struggled, but at the end I felt euphoric. In riding with the group, I had forced my body to keep pace and challenged my endurance. I wanted more.

I have been fortunate to find friends to introduce me to the Door County road biking community. Biking many of northern Door’s country roads has helped me get to know the peninsula and appreciate its beauty in a new way. Fortunately, Door County hosts several events that showcase this unique tour for locals and visitors alike.

The Peninsula Century Spring Classic is a popular ride in mid-June that offers several courses, making it a perfect race for all levels of riders. In addition to an obligatory 100-mile course, riders could also choose a “metric century” of 62 miles, or from 50 and 25-mile routes. After a great race, riders enjoy a meal from local restaurants and live music. This year the race even coincides with the Door County Beer Festival, which is also smack in the middle of Baileys Harbor.

Distance from Blacksmith Inn: The race start is about 500 feet south of the Inn on Highway 57, in front of Cornerstone Pub.

Pre-registration required: Yes

Cost: $40-60 depending on course on registration date

For well-rounded folks who are serious about running, swimming and biking, the Door County Triathlon in mid-July is a fantastic destination race. The event features sprint and half-iron distances. If a team affair appeals to you, there is an option to do the half-iron race as a relay team of two or three. The first leg is a swim in Horseshoe Bay, the next a bike ride on country roads south to Sturgeon Bay and the third a run in and around Egg Harbor. The race is known for its challenging run, which contains several steep elevation gains including Bluff Pass Road, which climbs 200 feet in a half mile. The race is not for the faint of heart, but its breathtaking scenery makes it unparalleled in the Midwest.

Distance from Blacksmith Inn: Driveable in 21 minutes (13.2 miles)

Pre-registration required: Yes

Cost: $99 to 435 depending on course on registration date

Road biking has helped me to see Door County in a new way. I appreciate road resurfacing like never before as I look forward to brand new asphalt beneath my tires.

When you’re done with a great ride or race, be sure to book a comfy bed and whirlpool to relax in. Check the Blacksmith Inn’s availability here.